Review: BBC2 drama-doc 100 Days to Victory was an effective way of delivering a much-needed history lesson
It's weird how something as literally world-changing as the First World War seems to have become so familiar.
We all know the names – the Somme, Ypres, Passchaendale – and we have come to understand the slaughter on both sides.
So when a programme comes along and tells you something you don’t know, it casts a new light on history.
100 Days to Victory (BBC2, Thursdays, 8pm) used a mish-mash of CGI, reconstructions, talking heads and archive footage to tell the story of the final 100 days of the war – from a final, massive, German offensive, to the Armistice.
Hands up who didn’t know there had been a final German offensive in the spring of 1918? Hands up who didn’t know they managed to get within 8okm of Paris? And hands up who didn’t know a combined British-French-Canadian-Australian-US force drove the Germans back?
See? Told you there was stuff to learn.
This being an Australian production, there was quite a lot of attention paid to the Dominion troops who fought – and died – alongside the French and British.
While British commander Douglas Haig was all stiff-upper-lipped donkey leading lions: “Every position must be held to the last man, there must be no retirement... each one of us must fight to the end.”
And the computer graphics and reconstruction were a little stiff and hokey, but it brought home the terrible, industrial nature of the war.
Did you know the Germans used a super-gun which flung shells which flew for three minutes before they hit their target, for instance?
At this time of remembrance, it was a useful history lesson, and if we don’t learn from history, we’re doomed to repeat it.
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